The Ukrainian Research Institute at Harvard University welcomes six research fellows for the 2021-2022 academic year. Put on hold during the COVID-19 pandemic, the fellowship program is expected to resume fully this fall, bringing to campus the scholars who were initially awarded fellowships for the 2020-2021 academic year. HURI will continue to monitor and comply with University and government guidelines for travel and in-person events, adapting as circumstances require.
We congratulate our incoming fellows and look forward to learning from their research. Spanning history, literature, musicology, and religion, their projects are a testament to the richness and diversity of Ukrainian studies.
Learn more about our academic fellowships in Ukrainian studies.
Mihaychuk Research Fellow | Spring 2022
Reshaping Nations: Population Politics and Sovietization in the Polish-Ukrainian Borderlands, 1944-1948
Halavach will explore one of the largest Soviet social engineering projects—the Polish-Soviet population exchange in 1944-1948, when almost two million people were uprooted. His research project looks at three areas of the Polish-Soviet borderlands: Lithuania, Belarus, and Ukraine. The variation in the results of the population exchange created a natural experiment, which allows for investigation into the importance of different factors in national homogenization: Soviet policy, ethnic conflict, consequences of war, long-term historical trends, and the rural-urban divide. The project explores how the Soviet regime changed during the war, how nationally diverse populations were unmixed, and what role ethnographic knowledge played in the postwar reshaping of nations.
Dmitry Halavach is a historian of modern Ukraine and East-Central Europe. His research interests include nations and nationalism and the impact of war on society. He defended his Ph.D. dissertation at Princeton University in 2019. Before coming to Harvard, he was the Petro Jacyk Postdoctoral Fellow at the University of Toronto.
Soviet and Ukrainian history, nations and nationalism, impact of war on society, empire.
Susana Torres Prieto
HURI Research Fellow | Fall 2021
The Kyivan Origins of Muscovite Imperial Ideology
My working hypothesis is that the roots of Muscovite imperial ideology, inspired in Judaic political theory, go back to Kyivan Rus’, and, more specifically, to the moment when two severe political crises emerge in the newly-created polity: on the one hand, the battle for legitimacy between several branches of the Rurik dynasty; on the other, the increasing threat coming from the Eastern steppes, which achieved its dramatic apex with the arrival of the Mongols in 1237. From that time, and even earlier, until the defeat of the Mongols in Kulikovo field in 1380, which also marked the definitive shift of power from the southern to the northern principalities, Judaic political theory offered two important ideas to reigning princes: firstly, a way to sacral legitimization by demonstrating God’s choice of his dynasty, and therefore of his land, if the case of a direct link between God and his newly-chosen dynasty or realm was made convincingly; secondly, the assurance of divine protection of His newly-chosen land from external, non-Christian enemies.
Since the Second Jerusalem political ideology is deeply rooted in Old Testament political ideology as expressed in the quotations of certain prophets and from certain books, my hypothesis is that, by studying the occurrence and meaning of biblical quotations in literary works in Kyivan Rus’ we could map the relevance of such ideology in a diachronic perspective.
Susana Torres Prieto is Assistant Professor of Humanities at IE University (Segovia). She has been working extensively on medieval Slavic literature for almost fifteen years. She completed her PhD dissertation on medieval heroic poetry in 2005, mainly on its analysis in the bigger history of ideas and also on translations from Greek into Slavonic.
Medieval Slavic literature, heroic literature in medieval Slavic, apocryphal Gospels in Slavic, imperial ideologies and history of ideas and mentalities
HURI Research Fellow | Fall 2021
The Globally Connected Village: A Ukrainian Migration History
What analytical framework do we need to study villages shaped by intensive and long-lasting migration processes? I tackle this question by scrutinizing a cluster of West Ukrainian villages in the course of the 20th century.
Migrants and non-migrants were closely interconnected by manifold networks. After a short period of homesteading in the Canadian Prairie Provinces, there was a sharp transition to what I call “intended temporary migration” or "Americanization" as early as 1903. It was mostly men, single as well as married, who were commuting back and forth and thus created robust and enduring networks with those left behind. Remittances sent back to the villages played a major role, even after Canada closed its doors to migrants in 1930. The establishment of a direct parcel service in 1955 enabled migrants to resume their previous economic functions, sending textiles instead of money to non-migrants (in particular, kerchiefs).
To fully grasp this phenomenon, it is necessary to synthesize migration and village history, striving toward a “microhistory of the globally connected village.” Thus, the village is perceived as a relational social space composed of networks between migrants and non-migrants.
Matthias Kaltenbrunner is a Postdoctoral Fellow at the Kule Centre for Ukrainian and Canadian Folklore, University of Alberta, Canada. He has been an assistant professor at the Institute of East European History, University of Vienna, Austria, from 2015 to 2019.
Ukrainian and East European history in the 19-20th century; migration history; global history; history of WWII
HURI Research Fellow | Spring 2022
Ukraine and the Music of the Russian Empire: Empire, Nation, and Province in Musical Representations and Discourse, 1863-1917
The musical culture of the Tsarist Empire was rich in works exhibiting a fascination with Ukraine and Ukrainian culture. The later nineteenth and early twentieth centuries produced a vast repertory of compositions ranging from piano works employing folk melodies to operas based on Gogol’s Ukrainian stories. This involved composers mining the same or similar material from different perspectives and with different agendas, from Mykola Lysenko, who produced works for Ukrainian audiences intended as expressions of a specifically Ukrainian musical culture, to Piotr Tchaikovsky or Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov, who worked in the imperial capitals and whose output is commonly understood as a contribution to the Russian national tradition.
The period in which Ukrainian topics became a common feature in opera and concert music coincides with the state’s repressive measures meant to curb Ukrainophile activity. Consequently, the cultivation of Ukrainian topics and styles was inevitably politicized.
Drawing on recent scholarship of nineteenth-century Ukrainian and imperial cultural politics, I propose a detailed analysis of these repertories and their reception, as a means to gain a better understanding of how the notion of national culture and the relations between Russia, Ukraine and the Empire were understood and negotiated in the musical life of the later nineteenth and early twentieth centuries.
Rutger Helmers is Assistant Professor in Musicology at the University of Amsterdam, and previously worked as a lecturer and researcher at Radboud University Nijmegen and Utrecht University. His main field of interest is nineteenth-century musical life in the Russian Empire, with a focus on opera, nationalism and travel. His current research concerns musical representations of Ukraine in Russian and Ukrainian music, which he will work on during his stay at Harvard as a HURI Research Fellow in the Spring of 2022. He is the author of Not Russian Enough? Nationalism and Cosmopolitanism in Nineteenth-Century Russian Opera (Rochester, NY: University of Rochester Press, 2014), alongside contributions for Music & Letters, the Oxford Handbook of the Operatic Canon and other scholarly media. Forthcoming publications include contributions for the Cambridge History of Nationhood and Nationalism and Čajkovskij-Studien. He has been an editor at the journal De Moderne Tijd (Modern Times: The Low Countries, 1780-1940) since 2015, and served as member the board of the KVNM (Royal Society for Music History of The Netherlands) from 2016 to 2019.
Music, national identity, Russian Empire, Ukraine, nationalism
HURI Research Fellow | Spring 2022
Sentimental Orthodoxy in Ukraine
This book project explores the seemingly counterintuitive dynamics of local responses to organizational discontent between Ukraine’s major Orthodox churches. The focus of this research is the interdenominational transfers from the Ukrainian Orthodox Church–Moscow Patriarchate (UOC-MP) to the Kyiv Patriarchate and later between the Orthodox Church of Ukraine (OCU) and UOC-MP.
The project takes a cultural sociological approach and examines the processes of production and communication of meaning in the context of two conflicting elite discourses: Russian World and Unified State–United Church. In an ethnographic account of how those discourses are practiced on the grassroots level, the book project reveals why parishioners typically switch from one church to the other, and under what circumstances they stay loyal or even abstain from participation in religious life.
The manuscript outlines three explanatory factors for parishioners’ rationale to switch or remain in the parish or abstain from parish life. A major contribution of this book project is the concept of sentimental orthodoxy which it coins to explain why those conflicting discourses do not lead to violent local reactions in times of organizational discontent and polarizing rhetoric. Sentimental orthodoxy is a set of formal and informal relationships and practices between parishioners and priests driven by affectual attachment to the personality of religious actors (priests) and symbolic meaning and histories of the church buildings, familial ties within and between the religious community members, and nature of commemorative practices of the religious place.
Tornike Metreveli is a Postdoctoral Researcher in Christianity, Nationalism, and Populism at Lund University. He received his doctorate in sociology from the University of Bern (2017), where he worked under the supervision of the eminent Christian Joppke. Before moving to Lund, Metreveli held a GFF postdoctoral fellowship at the University of St Gallen (Switzerland), a Swiss National Science Foundation Fellowship at Harvard’s Davis Center (2016-17), an OSF fellowship at London School of Economics (LSE), and the House of Commons (UK Parliament). Metreveli is a student of nationalism (MSc in Nationalism Studies from the University of Edinburgh) with research interests in the intersection of nationalism and religion in the geographical spaces of the former Soviet Union and Yugoslavia. His first book, Orthodox Christianity and the Politics of Transition (2021, London: Routledge), discusses how Orthodox Christianity was involved in and influenced political transitions in Ukraine, Serbia, and Georgia after the collapse of communism. In addition, Metreveli is the Principal Investigator (PI) of three international research projects funded by the Center for Governance and Culture in Europe/the University of St. Gallen: “Coronavirus: A New Test(ament) of Orthodox Christianity” (2021-22), which examines the responses of Orthodox churches to the global pandemic, “Territoriality of the Georgian Orthodox Church”(2021), and “Religion and the Wars of the 21st Century: Mapping the Narratives, Examining the Causal Factors, Understanding Teleology” (2022-24).
Sociology of religion, nationalism studies, social theory, Ukraine, Georgia, Orthodox churches
Mihaychuk Research Fellow | Spring 2022
‘A Fragment of Wholeness’: The Making of Self in the Works of Vasyl’ Stus
At the heart of my book project are the works of Vasyl Stus (1938-1985), one of Ukraine’s most complex and sophisticated twentieth-century poets, a Soviet dissident and a Gulag prisoner. My project offers the first comprehensive study of the groundbreaking exploration of subjectivity in Stus’s poetry. A Fragment of Wholeness scrutinises the poet’s unique concept of the self as samopromynannia (the non-coincidence of the self), which is constantly en route between Platonism and existentialism, modernism and postmodernism, romanticism and phenomenology, the Baroque and the Gulag. From this perspective, I seek to showcase Stus’s contributions to world literature and to underscore his key position in the landscape of modernist European poetries and in Soviet dissident literature. Drawing upon extensive archive materials and various genres of Stus’s writing, my reading investigates the poet’s innovative language, his original use of metaphor and self-address, while also regarding Stus from the perspective of medical humanities (applying psychoanalytic theory, neuroscience, psychiatry) and phenomenology.
Bohdan Tokarsky is a literary scholar specialising in Ukraine’s twentieth-century and contemporary literature, with a research interest in the intersections between poetry, philosophy and psychology. He completed his doctoral work on the poetry of the Soviet dissident poet Vasyl Stus at the University of Cambridge where he also taught as Affiliated Lecturer in Ukrainian Studies. He was a Prisma Ukraїna Fellow at the Forum Transregionale Studien in Berlin and a URIS Fellow at the University of Basel. He has also organised and participated in a number of poetry, theatre, translation and cultural diplomacy projects. Currently, Tokarskyi works as a Senior Research Associate at the University of Potsdam as part of the project “Europäische Zeiten/European Times”.
Ukrainian twentieth-century poetry; the Garrotted Renaissance; modernism in Europe and beyond; ecopoetics; medical humanities; law and literature; a history of laughter